New York City is full of little gems waiting to be discovered. Truthfully, though, we become so dazzled by the lights, mesmerized by the skyscrapers or are in such a mad rush to get from one place to the next that we miss some of the more obscure jewels that are in plain sight.
One such jewel is Library Way, a two-block long stretch of 41st Street between Fifth and Park Avenues that is a celebration of the written word. The project was born out of a partnership between the New York Public Library and Grand Central Partnership and was aimed at sprucing up the street.
Using passages from notable authors and artists as inspiration, over 40 unique bronze plaques created by the Andrews/Lefevre Studios now grace the otherwise grey sidewalk.
They’re not hard to spot, these plaques, but you’d probably walk right over them during rush hour. And if you did happen to spot them then, you’d hardly be able to stop and read let alone photograph them because of the foot traffic.
Go after rush hour and look for plaques with quotes from Marcus Aurelius, E.B. White, Tom Stoppard, Pablo Picasso, Langston Hughes, Dylan Thomas, Albert Camus, Julia Alvarez, Lucille Clifton, Henry David Thoreau and Gwendolyn Brooks, among others.
Click here to see all the plaques and quotes.
E 41st Street between Park and Fifth Avenues
New York City
Best seen outside of rush hour
Have you walked down Library Way?
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.
54 comments on “New York City: Library Way”
Wow, I’ve never known of these plaques. I keep meaning to visit the NYC library and always manage to skip it…not next time!
What a delightful find. I so enjoy reading those sorts of quotes too.
I’m writing sentences and paragraphs but wonder if it will ever lead to writing a book??
What a fantastic travel tip! I had no idea this existed. And what great photos. Sounds like every writer, blogger, reader in the world should make this a must see stop.
I didn’t know about these quotes, but love them. I love street art anyhow, but particularly am grateful when words are recognized as art. Tempe Arizona has little snatches of Mexican dichos (sayings) created by a Mexican-American poet, and here in Tucson we have a street that is lined with boulders with poems by a Tohono-Oodham woman poet.
It’s so refreshing to see how you cover New York city. It gives me many ideas of where I would go next time I’m there.
I love those. I bet it would be fun to take a rubbing of them. I wonder if you could do that without getting stepped on?
I just returned from NYC and did see these! I am always finding something new to explore when visiting New York. The public library should not be missed – inside and out!
Those two blocks of 41st leading up to the library are an absolute New York treasure. I love strolling them because I seem to read a new plaque every time. Such a small, refreshing break in all of the hustle and bustle of Midtown!
This is awesome! I was born and raised in New York and sometimes I forget to look at the city with a fresh pair of eye. So thank you so much for this! I see the great Argentine poet, Borges got a plague and I love the quote they used from him.
It’s always been one of my dreams to visit the New York Public Library. Now, I’ll have to look for these plaques along the way. Thanks for the tip.
I’ve seen these, and never really knew what they were until now. You are right–another hidden gem of NYC.
This is so cool! Your selection of quotes is so interesting. I so enjoyed reading through them. And I love how the art accompanies so well the words on the plaques. So cool. Bucket list!
Very interesting. I’ll bet you don’t find this mentioned in most guidebooks.
This is really beautiful, Marcia. I completely missed the plaques when I was in NYC, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for them next time I’m there. Thanks for sharing!
As tourists we often don’t look down as we walk around. I’m so glad I now know about these plaques so that next time I visit, I’ll be sure to look for them
What a great find in NYC! I’m not sure if I’ve ever ventured near here but now I’d love to walk down Library way. Those plaques are very interesting. I especially like the ones with the pencils and the calendar.
Leave it to you fo find the gems whereas the average person would overlook this. There’s painstaking artistry in these gems you’ve found. Bet you wanna move back to NY now, huh… 🙂
Oh my gosh! How long have these plaques been there? I’m sure I’ve been on 41st bet. 5th and Park lots of times, but never noticed. Will definitely look for them next time. A gem of a find, Marcia!
Those are beautiful. What a great idea for a photo essay!
Hmmm…I remember walking past the New York Public Library, but I never noticed these plaques. I sure hope it’s because I took a different route and not just because I never looked down. They’re actually very interesting to read.
Amazing captures!! Loved them.
Wish you a wonderful sunday Marcia:)
One of my favorite places in my favorite city!
Cool, Janine! It’s a great spot, for sure.
Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.
Thanks, Arti. Glad you like them
Hope you have a great Sunday as well.
Hey Steve! You probably walked by the 42nd Street side — the main entrance — in which case you wouldn’t have seen them.
Thanks, Michael. Glad you like them. They really are beautiful.
They were inaugurated in ’04, Cathy. Well, honestly, if you’re around during rush hour, I doubt you’d ever see them.
Thanks, Cathy! Remember to look for them next time.
What a great idea! I’ve read a lot about NYC, but have never heard about Library Way. I like discovering the lesser known gems in a popular city, plus I’m a huge library fan!
We have something similar along Karl Johan, Oslo’s main street – and at Oslo airport as well. Reminds us to not only look straight ahead as we hasten along, but also to take a little time to look down (and up) for different perspectives.
I visited the NYC Library once, and for only ten minutes or so. Clearly not enough time, but I was so awestruck by the library! I wish my local library was like that where I grew up. 🙂
Such a treasure. Speaks volumes for taking the slow path.
I like that, Narelle. It surely does.
It is a gorgeous building. If my local library looked like that, I’d be there everyday!
So true, Sophie. We always have to look up, down and everywhere. There’s so much to see! Would love to see yours on Karl Johan and at the airport.
It’s quite a neat idea.
It’s one of New York’s best kept secret, I think, especially for fans of the written word.
Hope you get a chance to see it soon.
Thanks, Totsy. There’s a lot of artistry in them. Each matches the selected piece perfectly.
Thanks, Mary. Library Way is a more interesting street because of this. Hope you get to see it on your next trip to NYC.
Believe me, as residents, we don’t either. Maybe because we know where we’re going, so we just put on our commuter face and go.
Hope you get a chance to see them next time.
You’re welcome, Andi and I do hope you get to see them next time you’re in town.
Sure is, Dick. Now that you say that, I doubt I have seen it mentioned. I’ll have to check.
Yes, the words, the art both work together quite well. The sculptor who did this is definitely a talented person.
Sometimes we’re in a rush and never get to find out what the things are that catches our eyes. Sometimes we just forget.
Glad you know what they are now.
It is an absolutely gorgeous place, Michele. If you saw one of the Sex and the City movies, it’s where Carrie was planning to get married.
A tour would be well worth it.
You’re welcome, Jen. Hope you get a chance to check them out. I’m glad I got that quote then. He’s one of my favorite authors so I was happy to see him there.
You are absolutely right! It’s totally unexpected, especially on 41st Street and it gives the street a nice touch.
I agree, Debbie. And I’m glad you saw them! Aren’t the just absolutely cool?
I think you could, Jessica. Definitely outside of rush hour. A weekend morning would also work.
Thanks, Michael. The city is very near to my heart and so full of surprises even for someone who’s lived there for 10+ years.
I agree, Vera. Words make quite powerful art. It says a lot when a community puts such emphasis on the written word.
I’d love to see those dichos in Arizona and the boulders in Tucson.
Very true, Jackie. It really makes these authors works accessible to everyone.
Hahaha, I liked that one too, Leigh.
Thanks, I’m glad you like this.
Oh no, Deej, next time you must visit the library. It’s quite a special place.
I absolutely love this library…it’s one of my fave spots in the city! Thanks for taking pictures of the quotes…you’re right, it gets so busy most of the time that it’s hard to stop and read them all individually!
It’s quite a beautiful library. I love going there too!
You’re welcome, Jess. The key is to go there on the ‘off’ times to avoid the crowds.
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